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The Pre' 65 Scot­tish Two-Day Trial Kin­lich­leven, nr Fort Wil­liam Fri 29th and Sat 30th April

Classic Trial - - PROFILE -

“I knew Wil­lie and his fam­ily very well. When I first rode the Loch Lomond Two Day in 1975, he took me un­der his wing on the first day. Wil­lie was known as a fiery char­ac­ter, a man that took no prison­ers. He had bright red hair and beard but he gen­uinely had a heart of gold and en­cour­aged young peo­ple to take up the sport. He told me to fol­low him across the moor, dodg­ing the peat hags and it taught me how to ride quickly. I used to ride my Honda to visit him near Dalkeith and stayed for hours talk­ing tri­als. My mum would phone his wife Creena and ask if I had left for home.”

Mof­fat took up the chal­lenge at the end of 2000 but the 2001 Scot­tish was fa­mously called off in the March due to the foot and mouth out­break and he spent a few days pro­mot­ing the trial in Fort Wil­liam.

“It was very sur­real; the com­mit­tee had ab­so­lutely no choice but to can­cel the 2001 event. If the out­break had spread into the deer pop­u­la­tion in the High­lands the trial would have run the risk of be­ing blamed for it. All the tri­als fol­low­ers and rid­ers ac­tu­ally came to Fort Wil­liam as they had booked ac­com­mo­da­tion and had no tri­als to ride any­way. Colin Bul­lock put on films at the Mil­ton Ho­tel and had a photo quiz. It was re­ally weird meet­ing up with folk with no trial be­ing run, the town was ac­tu­ally buzzing. I at­tended a re­cep­tion at the High­land Coun­cil town house with mem­bers of the tri­als com­mit­tee. It was re­ally all done to sup­port the lo­cal busi­nesses that an­nu­ally looked to the in­come from the event, it was im­por­tant to try to keep that go­ing in some way.”

New Ideas

Mof­fat had new ideas, the aim of which was to try and im­prove and mod­ernise the in­fra­struc­ture of the SSDT, which ap­peared to be wel­comed by the im­porters and com­peti­tors he spoke to but it was not all plain sail­ing.

“I in­vested a lot of my own time speak­ing with the main play­ers in the sport in 2001 and there was a com­mon thread which emerged, the SSDT was pop­u­lar. It had been res­ur­rected from a slip­pery slope in 1996 by Wil­lie (Dalling) and Peter Ste­wart with fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from Hamil­ton Ca­bles but it still lacked some­thing and the com­mit­tee seemed con­tent to re­peat what they did year af­ter year. I per­son­ally didn’t agree with that, I be­lieved the trial needed more pro­mo­tion and sub­tle an­nual changes to keep it fresh, not ev­ery­one saw it that

way. Don’t get me wrong, these guys did a mas­sive amount of work tak­ing lit­er­ally tons of flags over the hills, they were very ex­pe­ri­enced at putting the event on the ground, they were ex­tremely good at it, but it needed some­thing more hap­pen­ing.”

The 2002 trial went with­out any real hitch. The event was back af­ter a year’s ab­sence and saw Amos Bilbao take the win on his Mon­tesa 315R, a very pop­u­lar win­ner. But for Mof­fat it was to be his swan-song.

“I went to the post-trial de­brief at Stirling the fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day and the at­mos­phere could be cut with a knife, I sensed a def­i­nite mood when I en­tered the room. It was a well-es­tab­lished post-trial meet­ing that let ev­ery­one have their say, which is per­fectly fine in my book but it did get rather per­sonal that evening. It was a far from pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. With hind­sight, I could and per­haps should have, sim­ply walked away that night but I lis­tened to what ev­ery­one said and I took the crit­i­cisms on board and agreed that I would be less ac­tive in some ar­eas. I reck­oned the com­mit­tee sim­ply wanted a scribe, not a mover and shaker type of sec­re­tary. Things seemed okay for a few months af­ter that as not much hap­pens un­til the Septem­ber fol­low­ing a Six Days, then an un­for­tu­nate set of cir­cum­stances took us all by sur­prise. The Army de­cided to cease their re­fu­elling sup­port and that in it­self was suf­fi­cient to end the event per­ma­nently.”


The SSDT com­mit­tee was strug­gling to think of a way for­ward and pon­dered the sit­u­a­tion for a month. They even­tu­ally agreed to go pub­lic with an ap­peal for help from the tri­als com­mu­nity and mo­tor­cy­cle press.

“I won’t go into the de­tails as it would sim­ply ap­pear to be stir­ring up the past and open­ing up old wounds but some­thing hap­pened dur­ing the search for an al­ter­na­tive re­fu­elling provider that an­noyed some of the com­mit­tee and I was re­quested to ten­der my res­ig­na­tion. I thought about it and ca­pit­u­lated, al­beit reluc­tantly, as I main­tained that it was not my do­ing. I had been brought up never to ac­cept blame for some­thing I didn’t do and I have al­ways owned up to any­thing I have done wrong. I re­mained a di­rec­tor for two fur­ther years af­ter that as I had pur­chased shares in the Ed­in­burgh club which is of course a lim­ited com­pany. My main rea­son for re­main­ing as a di­rec­tor was sim­ple; I was still an en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of the event and firmly be­lieved that the trial was much big­ger than one per­son. How­ever, the trav­el­ling to board meet­ings in Ed­in­burgh, a round trip of 175 miles, be­came a chore so I re­signed my di­rec­tor­ship in 2003.”

Un­daunted, John took up another chal­lenge and po­si­tion, a co-opted mem­ber of the Scot­tish ACU tri­als com­mit­tee in late 2002.

“Ayr­shire del­e­gate Jimmy McMeechan had taken ill and the Chair­man, Johnny Davies, asked if I would like to be co-opted onto the SACU tri­als com­mit­tee. I said I’d think about it. I ran it past my mum to hear what she thought. My dad had died in late 1997 and she lit­er­ally pleaded with me not to go on the SACU. My wife, Jean, had the same view. I was never one for lis­ten­ing to ad­vice so I took up the va­cant berth any­way; I felt I had some­thing to ben­e­fit the sport in gen­eral. I quickly be­came Vice- chair­man to Johnny Davies, a great en­thu­si­ast and re­ally en­joyed stew­ard­ing events, speak­ing to the rid­ers and of­fi­cials alike.

“Johnny, who was a former Scot­tish Scram­bles cham­pion, was my men­tor; he taught me a hell of a lot about the sport’s pol­i­tics and at times was a calm­ing in­flu­ence. I used to de­lib­er­ately ar­range my sales calls to be able to pop in and see him on my way home, reg­u­larly ar­riv­ing home at two in the morn­ing af­ter a right good nat­ter with Johnny, bril­liant times.”

Tri­als Chair­man

When Johnny Davies died in 2007 John Mof­fat took over as SACU Tri­als Chair­man and be­came a di­rec­tor of the SACU.

“That was prob­a­bly the worst thing I ever did go­ing on the SACU board, my mum was bang on the money there. The com­pany as I saw it was rapidly los­ing money, se­ri­ously over­staffed, badly man­aged and in­ef­fi­cient. I felt it had lost con­tact with not only the com­peti­tors but also their mem­ber clubs. The or­gan­i­sa­tion was not seen to be in touch with the sports grass roots. In my opin­ion it was be­ing run no bet­ter than an av­er­age mo­tor­cy­cle club but with big­ger bills to pay. I made my­self very un­pop­u­lar with the old guard as I knew what needed to be done. It didn’t go down well, I was too out­spo­ken for them. It was like bang­ing your head against a brick wall all the time.

“There was some sup­port from the then mo­tocross chair­man and the road-race chair­man and Rob­bie Al­lan had come back on the scene but when we brought in Sandy Mack as Gen­eral Sec­re­tary to try and turn things around, it all just erupted. There were egos get­ting in the way at ev­ery meet­ing and it just went from bad to worse.

“I did my bit at the Cham­pi­onship pre­sen­ta­tion of awards in 2011, went home and wrote my res­ig­na­tion that night. I was to­tally fed up with all the back-bit­ing, back-stab­bing and I asked my­self why I was even both­er­ing. The best ac­tion for me was to walk away and keep walk­ing. From then on my motto has been: what is spo­ken be­hind my back is none of my busi­ness!”

While John has had his share of un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dents in the sport, he wouldn’t change any­thing. Over the years he has ac­cepted in­vi­ta­tions to com­men­tate, in­ter­view sports per­son­al­i­ties at mo­tor­cy­cle shows and guest pre­sented on Ne­vis Ra­dio dur­ing the Six Days and hosted nu­mer­ous pre­sen­ta­tions of awards evenings.


As for com­pet­ing, he still gets out on a Mon­tesa 4RT and has gath­ered a few Bul­ta­cos to ride when the op­por­tu­nity and time per­mits.

“I still heave a big bike out oc­ca­sion­ally, I have a real nice 1964 short-stroke AJS 16C that I use on the road, plus I have both my fa­ther’s re­stored AJS and Match­less tri­als ma­chines. Those are the bikes that I love to hear, that takes me back to lis­ten­ing to the chuff-chuff-chuff of a big sin­gle four-stroke.”

He knows most, if not all, of the tri­als mo­tor­cy­cle and ac­ces­sory im­porters in the UK and fur­ther afield.

“I’ve met a lot of great peo­ple and real char­ac­ters in the sport, not just tri­als rid­ers, but all sorts. I sup­pose I’m too much my own man, I don’t suf­fer fools gladly and un­pro­fes­sional at­ti­tudes don’t rest easy with me. My old man and I were sim­i­lar in that re­gard. I be­come frus­trated with com­mit­tees lack of vi­sion and the in­abil­ity to recog­nise that peo­ple want things to progress and im­prove. I’ve never con­sid­ered my­self a rene­gade or mav­er­ick but I’ve never been com­fort­able with ac­cept­ing sec­ond best in any­thing I at­tempt. I al­ways try to see the other per­son’s point of view; that is only rea­son­able and fair. In short, I love the sport of mo­tor­cy­cling and only want the best for it. I sup­pose you could call me an en­thu­si­ast and leave it at that.”

2014 Scott: John mixes it with fa­mous ma­chin­ery

2013 Pre-65 SSD T: John’s son David rode the fam­ily owned AJS as fea­tured in the im­age from the 1953 ‘Scot­tish’.

2014 SSDT: En­joy­ing a chat with Ge­orge Sartin the founder of Talon En­gi­neer­ing. Ge­orge is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the SSDT.

2014 March: It’s not just tri­als that John en­joys as here he is seen in­ter­view­ing ‘Fast Fred­die Spencer’.

2014 SSDT: Ev­ery­one knows John and en­joys shar­ing the fun at the SSDT. He is seen here with Manel Jane the Ver­tigo boss.

2014 Alvie Two Day: Rid­ing close to his home in the High­lands on his Bul­taco, John has been very in­stru­men­tal in the ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion this event now has.

2014 Scott Trial Re-union Din­ner: Mix­ing with the best: Left to Right: Arthur Lampkin, Martin Lampkin, Rob Edwards, Alan Lampkin, Johnny Brit­tain all Scott Trial win­ners. At the back on the left are David Wood and John Mof­fat.

2014 Scott: Un­known to James Dabill he has just won the 100th Scott trial, John cap­tures the mo­ment.

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